Science

New research shows that the oldest meteor crater on Earth is not actually a crater

In 2012, scientists identified what they believed to be the remains of a three-billion-year-old meteorite crater in the Archean Maniitsoq structure in Greenland. While fieldwork at the same site, a team of scientists from the University of Waterloo found that the features of the area were inconsistent with the impact crater. According to lead scientist on the project, Chris Yakimchuk, the crystalline zircon rocks in the region are like “small time capsules.”

He said that they are preserving ancient damage caused by shock waves from meteor collision and that the team He did not find such damage in rocks. Yakymchuk also notes that there are multiple places where rocks dissolve and crystallize deep within the earth. During a meteorite impact, this process, called metamorphosis, will happen almost instantly. The researchers found that in that specific region of Greenland, the process occurred 40 million years after the previous group had proposed.

The team says they were there to explore the area to explore potential minerals. Close examination of the area and data collected since 2012 allowed them to conclude that the features were inconsistent with the meteor impact. Yakymchuk says the team was disappointed that they weren’t working on a structure caused by a meteorite colliding with Earth 3 billion years ago, but he points out that understanding of Earth’s ancient history is always evolving.

The team’s findings provide scientific data for resource companies and prospectors in Greenland to find new mineral resources. It is unclear what kind of minerals the team was searching for at the time. Yakymchuk has worked with a team of international scholars from Canada, Australia, Denmark, Greenland and the United Kingdom.

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